Extract from BWT podcast episode 7 (Oct 2010) – short story markets

Most writers do write with a view to submitting their work and as this podcast comes from the UK, I talk about British outlets, starting with magazines. There used to be a glut of opportunities for short story writers but many, such as Bella, Best, Woman’s Own and Woman, have stopped including fiction leaving the following staple weekly magazines:

  • My Weekly – usually has 2-3 short stories and sometimes a serial, and book club. At the moment however, if you’ve not been published by them they are unlikely to accept your story.
  • Take a Break – a single page twist or sting in the tale short story. The rest of the magazine contains mainly non-fiction/puzzles.
  • Woman’s Weekly – Similar to My Weekly it usually has a mixture of stories and serials.
  • ‘The Weekly News’ – a newspaper style weekly which contains 3 stories, one short and two longer over a 2-page spread. The good thing about the Weekly News is that it is family targeted so many of the leading characters are male which is unusual in this market. They also prefer email submissions.
  • Originating in Scotland, People’s Friend – probably the most famous and long-running short story magazine. They are part of the DC Thomson group which also makes ‘My Weekly’ and ‘The Weekly News’. DC Thomson’s website is www.dcthomson.co.uk.
  • The Lady used to have one (usually 2-page) short story but have shelved it for now other than the occasional piece by already well-known authors.

Monthly (ish)

  • Candis – a monthly A5-sized magazine targeted at older rather than young readers. Have one story of usually 2-3 pages, usually no more than 2000 words”. They are a subscription-only magazine and 10% of their sales go to ‘health-related charities’ (including British Heart Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care). Their website is www.candis.co.uk.
  • Good Housekeeping – packed full of household tips, articles, topical debates and usually a short story, often by famous authors. Their website (www.goodhousekeeping.co.uk) has a great ‘Books’ section which includes reviews, extracts and literary news.
  • Take A Break ‘Fiction Feast’ – a fantastic magazine and usually contains tales with twists, love stories and spine chillers. The main content is stories there are also crosswords and puzzles. You can buy it in the  shops or subscribe via www.takeabreak.co.uk which is what I did.
  • Another over the counter or subscription magazine is Woman’s Weekly’s Fiction Specials which come out roughly every 6 weeks. They used to take 60 word stories (and published one of mine back in 2006) and reader poetry but stopped just now just publish 2 or 3 pieces of fiction.

Quarterly

  • Granta – although described as a magazine it’s more of a paperback publication. First launched in 1979 they are currently on edition no. 110 and I have about half of them; which like all my other books, are waiting to be read. They suit me because you can dip into them and tend to read more anthologies or novellas than novels. Their website is www.granta.com where you can, amongst other things, subscribe to the magazine. One of their current offers is £30 a year for four editions with free access to their online archive.

Yearly

My Weekly, People’s Friend and Yours produce yearly annuals. The inside format is very similar to their magazines but in A5 hardback covers and usually available before Christmas at around the £6-£7. I have two by Mills & Boon (2007 and 2008) which I think are the only ones they’ve produced as that’s all Amazon shows.

Before submitting it’s always advisable to contact the relevant magazine for their up-to-date guidelines so you don’t waste your and, more importantly, the magazine’s time. Writer Sue Moorcroft (who I interviewed in special episodes 2 and 3 – http://www.suemoorcroft.com) advises not to submit to more than 3 magazines at once and definitely to submit different stories to each. You’d need to then wait for sufficient amount of time (in some cases up to 6 months) to have elapsed before sending the story elsewhere. I’ve found that People’s Friend and Take a Break are the quickest (especially with rejections). The guidelines should say how long your piece can be, subjects to avoid etc. People’s Friend contains the most stories and is probably the gentlest of the magazines whereas Take a Break is towards the other end of the spectrum and they love clever twists. A ‘must’ is to buy two or three recent/current issues of the magazine and see what stories they are publishing. Sue has also suggested reading the rest of the magazine you can also see what their audience is, i.e. if they advertise stair lifts and bathing aids then you wouldn’t necessarily want to write a story about teenage angst…unless perhaps a parent or grandparent is also featured to give them some wisdom. Joanna Barnden (who I interviewed in special episode 4 – http://www.joannabarnden.co.uk) did say they’re looking for younger characters but again it has to be a gentle story.

Another interesting point to remember is that magazines often work 3-6 months ahead of schedule so if you have a Christmas story it would be advisable to send it mid/late summer rather than in November, so now would be a good time to submit Easter, Spring or even summer stories. It does help not to be too specific: obviously there’s a narrower market for Easter stories than say, Spring but birthdays are always popular as everyone has them and they happen every day. Good luck and do let me know how you get on.

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